Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Coming soon: 'Domestic spying surge!'

Torture, secret prison camps, the suspension of habeas corpus, American war profiteers in Iraq, the abuse of our troops abroad -- and the wounded that return... this administration is a veritable cesspool of corruption and abuse of power. It is hard to single out a particular abuse and call it 'most infuriating' given the endless stinky bubbles burping to the surface of the Bushie oil slick.

Everyone has a hot button issue. If I had to pick one issue that continually makes my head explode, it would be the rampant use of domestic spying by this very obvious partisan and power-hungry administration -- and the lack of real excuses given for watching our every move.

A new commentary by Fred Kaplan in Slate, entitled "SPY SURGE: Prepare for more Domestic Spying," discuses an interesting section in the latest National Intelligence Estimate that appears to push for even more domestic surveillance.

Why am I not surprised?

I believe the direct assault on our forth amendment by the illegal and warrantless wiretapping of all American citizens, without knowledge or consent, is the single most impeachable offense that has been committed by this administration:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Many conservative scholars agree. Norman Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said:

"I think if we're going to be intellectually honest here, this (domestic spying) really is the kind of thing that Alexander Hamilton was referring to when impeachment was discussed."

It doesn't seem to matter (off the table, off the table, we're too busy, it's not worth the time.)

Meanwhile... you can imagine that if the Bushies consider it open season on their more famous political enemies - to the point where former Surgeon General Richard Carmona wasn't even allowed to attend the Special Olympics because the Kennedys endorse it - oh just imagine how the the vast majority of Americans who oppose the war are hanging in the partisan, political wind.

With all of our recent and persistent noise about ending the war and impeachment, are we to illogically believe that this administration bears us no ill will?

Perhaps this is at the heart of my endless frustration with Congress. Our Constitution was devised to protect us, the people, from abuse of government power. I expected our representatives in this government to stand up for us - and the Constitution they swore to uphold and protect - and call off these very obvious partisan dogs of war.

At the very least, I expect them to verify that this domestic spying is not being abused for partisan purposes.

Now that the war is going badly, and people are starting to notice that we never went after Al Qaeda where they really live, do the Bushies suddenly decide to step up action against Pakistan?

If they really wanted to stop Al Qaeda, they've known for some time exactly where to find them:

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has been able to deflect criticism of his counterterrorism policy by repeatedly noting the absence of any new domestic attacks and by citing the continuing threat that terrorists in Iraq pose to U.S. interests.

But this line of defense seemed to unravel a bit yesterday with the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes that al-Qaeda "has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability" by reestablishing a haven in Pakistan and reconstituting its top leadership. The report also notes that al-Qaeda has been able "to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks," by associating itself with an Iraqi subsidiary.

The Bush Administration has known for some time that Bin Laden was in Pakistan. And many recent news reports have claimed that we are in fact much less 'safe' since our invasion of Iraq than we were in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

Even the military has soured on the surge, as shown in a recent poll by Military.com. One comment jumped out at me, because it made me realize again, how badly these troops have been misused in this war - this war they thought would protect the homeland from any future attacks of terrorism:

"Or we pull out, use the money for the war to bolster our forces and anti-terrorism capabilities and be ready to respond when [enemies] show themselves," writes "userArmy."

So if this was indeed about fighting terrorism at all: the obvious choice for any administration would be to redeploy and pressure Pakistan to give Bin Laden up. We pressured Afghanistan... and surely we would be justified in demanding that Pakistan stop harboring terrorists hell bent on attacking us within our country.

If we were to withdraw from Iraq, our claim that we are 'only waging a war on Terror' would be much, much stronger. As things currently stand, we are viewed the world over as an invading force.

But of course... I'm talking of reason, I'm speaking of rounding up the actual terrorists that attacked us, and forgetting all about the OIL. And because we citizens are wising up to the real motivations behind this war, we must be watched. And I'm hoping that is the least of it. Conservative and former Reagan Administration official Paul Craig Roberts wrote a harrowing commentary in Counterpunch:

If the Bush administration wants to continue its wars in the Middle East and to entrench the "unitary executive" at home, it will have to conduct some false flag operations that will both frighten and anger the American people and make them accept Bush's declaration of "national emergency" and the return of the draft. Alternatively, the administration could simply allow any real terrorist plot to proceed without hindrance.

And the government is spying on us?

In his commentary in Slate, Fred Kaplan revisits reports about the National Security Agency's "data-mining" technologies, and the intrusive "Total Information Awareness" network the Pentagon was originally advocating - without any proof that this assault on privacy was even effective. Apparently all previous domestic spying was for naught, because if recent reports can be believed, Al Qaeda is once again operating on our soil:

Most of the report (which I analyzed here) concerns an alleged resurgence of al-Qaida. But toward the end, the authors mention a small but expanding number of "violent Islamic extremists inside the United States" who are "becoming more connected ideologically, virtually, and/or in a physical sense to the global extremist movement."

Kaplan has also noticed a slight modification in what - and who - they're now monitoring:

The report also notes dangers posed by "non-Muslim terrorist groups," "single-issue groups," and "even small numbers of alienated people" who might "find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack—all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader."

Small numbers of alienated people? Single-issue groups? Pardon me if I'm wrong here, but I'm guessing they're not talking about the KKK or skin heads. Or even the nation's most vocal homophobic and racist haters - because these can be found all over the radio dial, and even on TV. So who are they talking about?

And honestly: couldn't such vague and sweeping language include nearly every angry citizen in the United States? How about every citizen calling for impeachment? Or every citizen who wants the United States to withdraw from Iraq?

Small numbers of alienated people? What does that mean? Alienated from what -- from Bush? I'd like a little clarification.

One thing is perfectly clear. We were told that we were fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq as a justification for the continuation of this escalating war. We were told that we had to fight them 'over there, so they wouldn't fight us over here.' We have known for some time that Bin Laden was probably in Pakistan, and that Al Qaeda was in fact rebuilding there. Finally the government admits as much. And their idea of a solution?

Spy on the American people again. 'Spy on us here so you don't have to fight them over there.' Yes, we get it.

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Blogger eric strauss said...

Thank you for being pissed and for saying so. It's easy for us all to kind of throw up our hands and say, well, nothing I can do about it.

There is one thing we can do - we can blog about it. And it may not seem like it does anything, but it adds another voice to the memescape. It helps drive home the fact "outrage" is a reasonable, moderate position, given the circumstances.

So, thanks for still being mad.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Maire said...

Every day is becoming a 'house of horrors.' I could walk away from the computer, stop reading, stop writing... but I realized two things.

1. I was trained to write and I never did it professionally. Maybe its time to do it for an even better reason...

2. All of the people I most admire in life spoke out, stood up and at least tried to make a difference. I realized one day that the time is here, now. If not now, then never. As Lincoln said "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have." I have to at least try. And for me, 'trying' is writing. I really have nothing else I can give.

Thanks for stopping by.

9:08 PM  

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